“Chester had his own way of doing things…”
From the title and these open words of Kevin Henkes’ beloved book, Chester’s Way, one would not guess that this is actually a story about childhood friendship. Instead, perhaps, the book could be more aptly named “Chester and Wilson‘s Way.”
In this classic story, Chester and Wilson are inseparable best friends. Henkes portrays their friendship through the many details one would expect characterizing a close friendship between young children-“two peas in a pod”-who have the same likes, dislikes, and habits, as they do everything together, through thick and thin. Even if that means Chester has to risk growing a watermelon plant inside himself because his friend accidentally swallowed a watermelon seed first. They are content to be exactly as they are, and are certain nothing could ever change. That is, until…
… the unexpected introduction of a new kid into their neighborhood.
What will happen when this new kid, Lilly, arrives on the scene? She is a bit wild and unique, even somewhat intimidating to these two boys who find comfort in sticking to their familiar routines.
Without giving away too much about the story, it can be said that Henkes is willing to break some stereotypes in this book, especially through Lilly’s character. For those who are not already acquainted with Lilly through Henkes’ other books, she is definitely not your “typical” sweet little girl. Rather, she has a variety of fun quirks and is simply full of surprises every step of the way.
“‘She’s something else,’ said Chester. ‘Looks like it,’ said Wilson.”
To find out how her arrival in their neighborhood affects the boys, their friendship, and even the new girl herself in ways no one could have expected, enjoy this childhood classic today.
This book will prove accessible for a variety of young children, as it speaks to the common experiences of friendship and change in childhood. Furthermore, it shows kids that making new friends- even when it can be challenging or require them to go outside their comfort zone- can be a delightful and tremendous adventure far beyond what they could have ever hoped for.
-Reviewed by Octavia White